Passive House stands for a highly efficient house that is built to be energy consumption neutral. Sometimes, it is also referred to as a “net-zero house”. This article will give you a deep dive look into this exciting green building trend of Passive House.
The PassiveHouse movement started in Darmstadt, Germany which is why one finds both the German spelling “Passivhaus” as well as the English translation “Passive House”. The idea is to not only be energy efficient but, in fact, create a house so insulated and/or airtight that the house does not need to be operated with outside energy sources like gas and/or electric. Is this even possible? Suprise – it is!
Diving deeper, you will find some net-zero architects and designers to believe that windows need to a reduced to a minimum while others opt for large, expansive windows to enjoy indoor/outdoor living.
Inspirations from other Passive House Owners
Starting with good information from homeowners who have built their passive houses is always a good springboard. You learn about their goals and desires. Taking a deep dive into the subject in a free-flowing, entertaining way is a great way to get yourself to the point of perhaps talking to an architect or a builder of passive houses.
SHG Living’s Rise is the perfect resource. The series presents a variety of homeowners who embraced the concept of a passive house. The settings of these passive houses vary from urban to the-countryside. One couple is just starting out on their project while others are more or less complete so that they can reflect on their journeys. There are a lot of real-life tidbits that you can only get from people who have been there. Super insightful!
What are the top three takeaways?
- One common goal held by all of them is their wish to upgrade the quality of the build toward zero energy consumption while reducing the size of the overall square footage of the house to exactly what fits their lifestyles.
- Except for one young couple, presented homeowners worked on their projects in a hands-on fashion, or shall I say pretty intensely. These are hard-core DIYs who do not fear getting on scaffolds to install insulation or hang the drywall.
- The interviewed homeowners owned conventional homes before. In other words, the idea of owning and building a house is nothing new to them and their passive house ventures reflect their take-aways from those experiences. They view their passive house as an evolutionary step from earlier DIY experiences.
Surprise Design Feature
Two homeowners emphasized their need for big open windows to enjoy the view to the outside and to let sunlight in. Passive houses and big open windows are not commonly found in the same sentence.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that the general assumption in Passive Houses is that windows must be minimized, as windows are generally regarded as a heat loss no matter the triple-pane glazing. Yet letting the sun into the interiors to thermally heat up the floor during the day to then be released at night turns out to be a desirable passive heat gain. Additionally, the aesthetic value of looking into the open landscape is a key component of two of the homeowners because it provides psychologically larger living space.
Deep Dive Into An Unexpected Takeaway
After watching SHG Living’s passive house series of Rise passive houses you may find that passive houses do not come in one size, one style fits all. Finding the right architect and the right builders who can combine passive house principles and building material with a good site and house design to fit your goals and desires are key since passive houses can come in a variety of styles and sizes. Enjoy your journey!